Hello everyone! I told myself I would restart my blog come the first day of Fall, but here I am, the day after, and I don't have much to share. I am hoping to make this a lifestyle blog, not just about my sweets, so bear with me! I think I'll just give a little introduction of me and my life today!
My name is Brynne Oliver-Ziontz, I'm 31, and I reside in a small town north of Santa Rosa called Forestville with my husband of almost 3 years, Bryan, and our 2 beautiful cat daughters (Baylee is a tortoiseshell with a serious case of tortitude and Summer is part maine coon part abyssinian with a serious case of angelitude) with thoughts of real daughters (or sons) running rampantly in my mind. Funny thing about Forestville is that my oldest friend, Maria, had what her family called their "summer home" in this quant little town while we were growing up in San Francisco, and she always wanted to spend her weekends and her summers here and I never got it. I visited a few times and, being the city girl that I am, hated it. When it came time for college + adulting, she moved out this way permanently. Our other friend, Lis, moved out here, too, a few years later and stayed in Maria's family's home while working and going to school, and even then I wasn't convinced it was a fun place to live. Fast forward to a few months ago, when my husband and I were commuting to our mutual workplace in Healdsburg every day from Oakland (he had already done it for 1.5 years before I started my job) where we own a home, and I decided that the commute was terrible. I had already started to get a feel for this relaxed, nature-driven, country vibe and I was smitten! We started really looking and got so lucky and met an amazing couple, Kim + Ken, that own a house out here with an addition they built on. They liked us, thank goodness, and we officially moved in July 4th. The property is wonderful! Our living area is attached to their home, but the connecting room is our spare room that overlooks the deck, and their connecting room is their guest area + the acoustics are great. There is a big yard with a whole flower garden, a vegetable garden, several fruit trees, bees, and chickens! Our space is a 1 bedroom, but the living room is humongous and we have that extra room that serves as storage/litter box space right now. It has now been 2+ months and we are still trying to figure everything out. It has been really hard on me, just because I got used to owning my home and doing whatever i wanted to each room (or rather, designing what I wanted and having Bryan, my husband that learns how to do everything from the internet, make it happen :) teehee. The rooms are all wood walls and the whole house, including the kitchen and bathroom, is carpeted, so that has been a real challenge for me, visually. I hope to put my creative thinking cap on really soon and make this place feel like home/share with everyone what i've done! We have barely touched the yard, which breaks my heart, as it will not be warm for much longer, but I spoke to Kim today and she and Ken did a big garden clean-up and i'm hoping that Bryan and I can put in a few hours on Tuesday (our day off together).
A little bit more about me - clearly, my background is pastry! I went to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, right after high school to receive my AS in Baking & Pastry Arts. Why East Coast, you may ask? I was born in Connecticut and my whole family is from there, and my mother, father (who passed when I was 15), sister (Morgan), and I moved to San Francisco in 1991 when I was 4. My most favorite uncle (Uncle Rickey, who passed in January - I might mention him from time to time because he was a very important part of all of our lives) still lived in CT with his daughter, Ericka (my baby cousin/sister who is now 19), and for as long as I can remember, I felt like a part of me was missing and it needed to be discovered back where I was from. So I moved to RI, hated it, went to my uncle's every weekend I could, made my mom visit me every chance she could, did my internship in San Francisco, and moved back home as soon as I physically could! I hit the jackpot and received a job at a fancy restaurant called Michael Mina, which paved the way for my future. I met a lot of great people there, learned so much, and most importantly, met my mentor, Bill Corbett! I followed him for years at several different restaurants. I tried being the Pastry Chef a few times, but nothing ever felt right. It's important to note that I went to school thinking I would do wedding cakes after I graduated, but, instead, worked the line at restaurants for years and years and never really got experience. I got burnt out so many times and hated my job and hated the path my life had taken every other day. Finally, I said enough is enough, and took a job NOT in the kitchen. I started as a counter person at this hip bakery/cafe in San Francisco, Craftsman and Wolves in 2014. Because of my experience, age, and drive, I quickly climbed the ladder there. I became key holder, then assistant manager, then General Manager, then I hated that and became Office Manager, then they convinced me one more time to go back as General Manager, and then I had to leave because customer service + being the boss of much younger than you people is exhausting. My last day was December 31, 2016. My hope was to finally get my business, Caballito, off the ground running, but of course, life doesn't happen so easily.
I had this dream of living in Oakland in my hella cute bright yellow house catering parties with my tropical desserts, while also making jewelry, candles, doing flowers for events from time to time with my BFF and business partner, Niki, and just doing a hodgepodge of things making enough money to pay the bills and live my life. The first few weeks of January I was so burnt out nothing was going to happen. Then, I finally got some momentum, and my uncle died. This is my mother's baby brother, her best friend, a man she took care of all her life, and she was broken. My older sister, who we joke, has no soul, sometimes, was also devastated, because he was a big part of her life for 5 more years than me AND she lived right above him. Ericka was his mini me and his best friend. He was sick, he had cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis C, but he was better than he'd been, and his death was sudden and unexpected. It took me a few weeks for it really to sink in, I think because I was so worried about the three of them, and then when it did hit me, I just couldn't really do much of anything. So, all in all, my family was a mess. THEN, I got really sick. I had pains in my stomach, in the back of my body, in my sides. I couldn't finish a meal, I was dehydrated, so I finally got insurance again (lost it when I left my job) and went to the DR! She had me go in for blood work, and the next day, called me back and said I had to go to the ER immediately because my liver tests were irregular (let's just say, I love wine so that scared me quite a bit!). I freaked out, made my sister come get me, made Bryan turn around on his long commute to work, and got admitted to the ER. After hours of tests and no one really telling me what was up, I found out I most likely had a gallstone. They monitored me for 2 days and then performed the first of 2 surgeries on me. The first one I think was just to put a camera in me to look for the gallstone, because they couldn't see it. They kept me monitored and constantly took my blood, and it was clear I wasn't getting better, so the next day they removed my gallbladder. I think I was in there 4 days, and tbh, that was an amazing experience. It was Kaiser in Oakland and everyone was so sweet + I learned I love Guy Fieri and watched five million episodes of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives". Mama, sister, and hubby visited when they could, but I was also fine alone. I had a great liquid diet of beef broth and apple juice, I got my blood taken like 5 times a day, I had an IV of liquid constantly flowing into me, I had some pretty great diarrhea (tmi, sorry, but they had me on stool softeners), and really I got to sleep all day, which is something i'm pretty great at, if I may say so, and LOVE to do! The craziest part though, was that I was supposed to go to Japan with my sister and husband, and it almost didn't happen!!!! I literally got my gallbladder removed, went home that day, because surgery was the easiest part, and left for Tokyo the next day. I was uncomfortable and Bryan had to carry everything for me, but dayum, was it worth it.
Japan was the most magical experience I've ever had. I grammed a bunch about it, so check me out at my personal account: @brynneziontz. We were there for something like 12 days, and I still think about it every other day and MUST go back someday. We got back early March. I did a bunch of fun friends and family stuff. In April, I had a gig at the Grand Opening of a shop in Oakland, Mischief, selling my sweets and met a great woman there that hired me to dessert cater her birthday party! At the end of April, Bryan and I got an offer we couldn't refuse to go to Tulum in Mexico and dine at NOMA for free, because our dear friend, Robin, overbooked. Long story. Anyways, we got to eat at NOMA!! It was an amazing experience. I got back from that tropical vacay and then quickly set up at Mischief to be a pop-up shop with Niki (@foreignspell) for the month of May, and then she and I jetted out to Chicago for a week, to witness the nuptials of a dear friend from Craftsman and Wolves, Amber. Niki had been to Chicago, I had not. It is an amazing city that I want to visit again and again and again (also posted a million pictures on instagram).
I started at SHED, where Bryan is the Chef de Cuisine, in the middle of May. I accepted a job as a Larder associate (I slice meat for people + get them salads + plate charcuterie, cheese, and fish boards, all day. Sounds interesting, but I've learned A LOT about meat and cheeeeeeeese!!) with the idea that I could float in our retail department and our coffee bar. SHED is basically a big open space shop, all owned by one husband + wife duo, that contains a coffee bar, a restaurant, a grab and go section, a pantry retail shop, a housewares retail shop, and an event space. I also accepted the job of making wedding cakes for guests having their celebration in the upstairs event space, the Grange. We commuted for 2 months and then officially moved up beginning of July, like I mentioned. We quickly jetted off to Cabo for a family vacay with my sister, mother, and mother's boyfriend, to celebrate his birthday. We stayed at a hotel we had stayed at years ago, that was just remodeled after Hurricane Odile destroyed a lot of it! All inclusive mediocre food + pool bar + ocean + fruity drinks + family = amazing time! It was just a few days, but it was much needed. After that, we spent all of our days off moving stuff from the Oakland home up here + getting the house ready for the new tenants that moved in August 1st! I celebrated my 31st birthday with my sister, Niki, and my dear, beautiful, older cousin, Suzy, drinking wine and then eating at SHED! I've spent some time in the above ground pool we have on the property, did a river day (with plans to get at least one more in), visited with Maria a million times before she gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy, Lorenzo, on Friday, September 22nd, hung with Lillie, my new and dear friend who is the partner of my boss in the Larder, as well as a coworker now, and her baby boy, Sam, and daughter by relationship, Georgia, drove down to Oakland/SF a few times for some MUCH NEEDED family time and BFF time (we went to the COLOR FACTORY, check out my instagram), made a bunch of desserts for friends + to eat, MADE A WEDDING CAKE at SHED, worked a day at Outside Lands, SAW HAMILTON, worked on some fun projects, and basically, started living my best life. All in all, the move up here has been life changing and I am so happy we decided to do it! I have my days and vow to try really hard to work on me, whatever that may mean, but all in all, I love my life. I want to be able to share my experiences on here, good and bad, because I think that's the most important part of doing these things.
Thank you for coming along on my journey :)
Instagram handles: @caballitosweets for desserts, @brynneziontz for me, @seahorseseverywhere for images of seahorses found naturally in the world, and @brynnelovesstarbucks to see all the fun ways my name gets spelled when ordering coffee.
Currently reading: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes because I want to know what happens next (I saw the movie first) + Emily Post's "Etiquette"
Currently listening: "When I Was Yung" by Yung Pinch, "Useless" by Terror Jr, "Deeply Scarred" by Trippie Redd
Favorite Artists at the moment: Terror Jr and Frenship
Upcoming Caballito Events: 150 brownie and salted caramel cookie sandwiches individually packaged, so stay tuned for all that cuteness
Upcoming Brynne Events: just went to the Museum of Ice Cream, so there will be a whole blog all about that, River Day 9/26, Mura Masa and Joey Purp at the Fox 9/27, and meet baby Lorenzo tbd